Advanced Mack STEM Students Make Their Own “Whips” at the Crucible

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Edward Ainsworth, a junior,  works with Kathryn Hall to sand old paint off his bicycle

Story and photo by Anthony Beron

McClymonds engineering students welded, grinded, sanded, assembled, improvised and painted. Then they learned a lesson about the weather: as paint was sprayed on their home-made bikes at the Crucible in West Oakland, they realized that the cold weather can’t be tamed as easily as steel can be bent into shape.

The paint cracked, creating an unusually  jagged pattern. David Wright, one of the Crucible’s volunteers, complimented the design, calling it “crackin.”

“It looks really cool,” acquiesced engineering teacher Kathryn Hall, who had arranged for the Crucible staff to help her advanced engineering students build bicycles from scratch.

They met five times over the semester.

Students learned how to weld, paint and grind metal during the workshop in a hands-on manner during the five day-long course that was held over a period of five weeks, describing it as fun and challenging. Several students were able to present their own creations last weekend, earning an increased letter grade in extra credit for their engineering class.

They reused old bicycle parts, which ranged from cracked tubes to handlebars to rusted gears and drive-trains. They were then repaired and reassembled into ride-able recycled art, with nuances of accumulated pitch and worn paint.

Despite the alleged hands-on aspect of the course, several instructors complained of students not doing enough of their own work on their projects.

“Come on guys, you can’t have us do all this work that’s supposed to be done by you!” said a disgruntled Sudhu Tewari to Justin Gilreath and Issac Ramirez, a Mack senior and junior, respectively, for not completing an important weld.

When Mack engineering teacher Hall tried to take a ride with another student in the Gilreath-Ramirez designed cart connected to a bicycle, a weld failed when the joint that connected both pieces snapped. The bike, a tandem wheeler cart attached to a repainted and donated mountain bicycle, collapsed.

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